Okeechobee County, 

Florida 

A Pictorial History--Page 6

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Taylor Creek & RR.JPG (63185 bytes)In 1915 when the railroad arrived in Okeechobee, the commercial fishing industry completely changed.  No longer was it necessary to use boats to carry fish to Ft. Myers or Ft. Lauderdale through the newly constructed canals at the west end of Lake Okeechobee.  

Fish Houses Taylor Creek1915.jpg (86356 bytes)Soon many of the main fish houses were lined up along Taylor Creek, along with a new icehouse. The railroad constructed a main spur line right up to the docks to facilitate the loading of the fish. In the spring of 1915 Captain Tom Bass who had used his boat Success to ship all the fish before, now moved his office from Ft. Lauderdale to Okeechobee.  In June they were shipping four to seven boxcar loads of fish every week to the northern markets.

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The City of Okeechobee was incorporated in 1915 by a special act of the Florida Legislature.  The official date on this act was June 4, 1915.  The following officers were appointed by the governor:       Mayor-Peter Raulerson; Clerk and Assessor-Henry Chandler; Councilmen-C. L. Hatch, L. M. Raulerson, W. L. Coats, Dr. C. W. Darrow and S. J. Drawdy.   The new city government held it’s first meeting on July 13, 1915.  That very same month a large celebration was held to commemorate the event and it included foot races, greased pole contest, baseball game, musical program, and a fish fry  

o_o_davis_building_1923.jpg (87126 bytes)Business was booming during that very active year of 1915.  The O. O. “Buckshot” Davis building was completed in the fall, and opened as a furniture store.  Also occupying this building was the Okeechobee Drug Company.  By this time on South Park Street Ellis Meserve was operating the Okeechobee Hardware and Furniture Company, and also acting as the community’s undertaker.  He even ran ads in the newly started Okeechobee Call newspaper for a line of coffin accessories in stock.  

C. W. Underhill was operating the Okeechobee Barber Shop located betweenlooking_north_on_osceola_okeechobee.jpg (46716 bytes) McNeff's Northern Hotel and Raulerson’s Store on what is now S.W. Fifth Avenue. 

Cowboys.JPG (81637 bytes)Located on the first street south of Park Street, and running parallel with it was what is now S. W. Second Street.  Then it was called Seventh Street.  One of the first businesses to open on this street was Charlie’s Barbershop.  Uncle Charles Winkler who had arrived by boat just two weeks before the first train arrived, operated it.  This shop soon became the men’s social center, and on weekends when the cowmen and fishermen hit town, there was usually a battle at Uncle Charlie’s Barbershop.  This would soon spill over into in Flagler Park across from Okeechobee Hardware.  

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